Selling building materials was Andrew Kamau’s day job a few years ago. High-end estates in the city like Lavington, Kileleshwa and Runda would provide the 32 year old with a reliable stream of customers.
“I used to supply sand, ballasts, stones from Ndarugu quarry and from the little earnings, I was able to raise Sh300,000 savings,” said Mr Kamau.
Back then in 2009, a piece of stone was going for Sh36 and he would sell about 1,200 units in a good day.
He was soon able to save up and buy a two-and-a-quarter-acres in Makongeni, Thika. He paid the Sh350,000 deposit, sub-divided it into plots, paid the initial owner the balance and still made a tidy profit of Sh3.5 million.
The impressive returns opened his eyes and now he was ready to go big. Instead of just selling empty land, Kamau decided to start building houses and selling them.
His first housing project was near Kenyatta University where he bought half-an-acre and built 49 bed sitters on half of the plot and sold the other to finance the construction. The units sold at Sh250,000 each earning him over Sh12 million.
At just 27 years, he built his first residential house – a 2 bedroom unit that sold for Sh1.6 million. He continued building his fortune this way and was soon playing in the big league.
Today at 32, Kamau is the brains behind Green View Apartments, Diamond Heights in Kikuyu, Mashariki Park Project, Mazuri site Apartments in Thika and a multi-million shillings 36 house units project at Thindigua on Kiambu Road.
Dinara Developers Limited – the real estate company he started in 2009 is now a big player. It chucks out apartments that range between Sh2.5 million and Sh12 million.
“I make between Sh20 million and Sh25 million per month. Real estate is the place to be,” he says. His tale can be best described as dust to riches story that has seen him set Nairobi’s thriving real estate business alight.
“I want to remove this notion among young people and the old generation that one can only be a millionaire and own a house at a certain age,” he said at his 2,500-square-feet office at Sound Plaza on Woodvale Groove, in Westlands, Nairobi.
Being a young millionaire does have its challenges. Kamau tells of an incident in 2014 when a land seller refused to accept his fat cheque. The lady was selling her three-quarter acre piece of land in Kiambu for Sh70 million.
“She looked at me and asked, ‘young man, when did you start working to amass such wealth?’
But Sh70 million for a piece of land is not a little money. How did he raise it?
“The proceeds were raised from 169 apartments, which we constructed last year at Thika and sold at Sh2.5 million each. We raked in over Sh400 million,” said Mr Kamau.
Phase two with 250 units is coming soon.
Kamau considers honesty an important piece of the success puzzle.
“If you say the size of the house is 100-square-feet, you must deliver that size because anything short of that is outright theft,” he said. So what keeps him going?
“Doing a clean business. Without being honest, you won’t last long and this is what I strive to achieve every day. I value my customers and their feedback.”
His future plan is to develop his office block within the city. “Our monthly rent is Sh400,000 but this will be a thing of the past in the next two years as we shall put up our own office block,” he said.
On the short term, Kamau is targeting Thika, Kikuyu, Gitaru, Thindigua, Ruiru and Kajiado to put up housing units. He however has big plans for Dinara Developers, hoping to list it on the NSE by 2030.
For all the years, Kamau says his company has never taken any bank loan.
“We plough back our profits. We have deliberately avoided bank loans because of the high interest rates, which will obviously be passed on to the customers. In the past two years we have earned very little as a company because huge chunk of Sh300 million profits we make per year is invested back in our projects,” he said.
The growth of his company has been across board, and it doesn’t just build houses, but also owns a fleet of lorries that transports building materials.
From just 3 staff members a few years ago, Kamau has now employed 40 people.